Our world is saturated with images. We are exposed to pictures through signboards, news channels and smartphones, and we communicate through emojis, photos and icons. Some compare this visual turn to the printing revolution of the 15th century, as both transformed the way we experience the world. Arguably, the global spread of printing led to the expansion of literacy, and to the democratisation and secularisation of modern societies. The consequences of the visual turn are perhaps not fully realised, while some underscore its perils. In comparison with the relative lucidity of the text, the image is more elusive. Its messages are more impactful since they make “reality” more palpable, and for the very same reason their meanings are more cryptic. As our culture is becoming increasingly visual, the ability to code and decode images becomes exceedingly vital. If understanding visual language makes us more conscious of the social structures that shape our behaviour, the ability to forge images enables us to influence our surroundings by imagining it anew.
The aim of the 4-year BFA (Hons.) programme is to educate visual thinkers, who can critically address this new imagery landscape and the social challenges that it yields. While ensuring the mastery of our students over traditional skills of craftsmanship and image-making, they will be encouraged to approach art with conceptual and theoretical tools.
During the last two centuries the art field was dominated by the material labour and theoretical output emerging from limited geopolitical zones, namely West Europe and North America. The art production from different parts of the world was either ignored or gauged according to Eurocentric values. This state of affairs is gradually changing as artists from the global south are making their presence felt, and as art venues in non-western countries are becoming progressively central. Our program plugs into these growing global networks, and participates in the creation of a pluralistic world in which different traditions can converse without imposing themselves on each other.